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Everything you need to know about our oceans, and why they matter.

07 Jun. 2024 5 min read

Find out why we should all be em-ocean-al about saving our seas.

What is South Australia’s ocean?

South Australia doesn’t have one ocean but three! The Antarctic, Indian and Pacific Ocean all meet and intermix off Southern Australia creating an amazing dynamic environment that influences every aspect of our lives from the weather we experience, to the coastal environment we enjoy and the food we eat.

Here are 5 interesting facts about South Australia’s portion of the Southern Ocean,

  1. Warm water inputs: In the western portion of South Australia’s ocean waters, temperatures are influenced by a warm water current from Western Australia called the Leeuwin Current. These warm currents allow some highly mobile fish species typically of tropical origin to be observed in the Great Australian Bight.
  2. Cold water inputs: The Great South Australian Coastal Upwelling System is responsible for bringing nutrient rich cold water to the surface creating phytoplankton blooms and providing key food sources for krill and sardines which are in turn important food sources for whales and fish like tuna.
  3. Significant carbon sink: The Southern Ocean is a major carbon sink, absorbing more carbon dioxide than it emits. This helps mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It's estimated that the Southern Ocean absorbs about 30% of the human-produced CO2 in the world's oceans.
  4. Great Southern Reef: The great southern reef stretches from WA to NSW and supports amazing marine biodiversity, much of which is found nowhere else on the planet. SA’s oceanic waters help supply nutrient, oxygen, and food to the GSR where you can find blue gropers, leafy see dragons, giant cuttlefish and a host of sharks and ray species. There is also an incredible variety of life growing on the GSR, including macroalgae, sponges, crustaceans, bryozoans, echinoderms, and molluscs.
  5. Marine parks: South Australian waters are protected by a network of 19 marine parks in state waters, and 7 Australian marine parks in Commonwealth waters. Both marine parks networks are an important tool for conserving marine biodiversity
Everything you need to know about our oceans, and why they matter.

Why are oceans important?

According to the UN, there are 5 main reasons to care about our oceans,

  1. Climate regulation: The ocean absorbs 25% of carbon emissions and generates 50% of our oxygen, helping to combat climate change.
  2. Food source: It provides 15% of the animal protein consumed globally, essential for many populations.
  3. Jobs and livelihoods: 3 billion people depend on the ocean for their livelihoods.
  4. Economic development: The ocean economy is valued at $3 trillion annually, driving significant economic growth.
  5. Survival: A healthy ocean is crucial for our overall well-being and survival.


Why do oceans need to be saved?

Our oceans are facing significant threats due to a combination of human activities and environmental changes.

  • Pollution, particularly plastic waste, is contaminating marine ecosystems and harming wildlife; it's estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans annually, leading to deadly consequences for marine animals that ingest or become entangled in it.
  • Overfishing is depleting fish populations faster than they can replenish, disrupting the balance of marine ecosystems and threatening food security for millions who depend on seafood as a primary protein source.
  • Climate change is causing ocean temperatures to rise and sea levels to increase, which contributes to coral bleaching and the loss of vital coastal habitats.
  • Additionally, the oceans are absorbing about 30% of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, leading to ocean acidification that affects shell-forming species and the broader marine food web.

These combined factors highlight the urgent need for global conservation efforts to protect our oceans and ensure their health for future generations.

Everything you need to know about our oceans, and why they matter.

How can I help protect our oceans?

To help protect our ocean, you can:

  1. Reduce plastic use: Use reusable bags, bottles, and straws to keep plastic out of the ocean.
  2. Get involved in restoration: Get involved with restoration projects aimed at restoring ecosystems like mangroves for coastal protection or seagrass for carbon sequestration, helping to reduce ocean acidification. Check out your local council initiatives to get involved or explore DEW’s volunteering options.
  3. Clean up: Join beach or river clean-up events to remove rubbish from waterways.
  4. Save water: Use less water to reduce runoff that can carry pollution to the ocean.
  5. Learn and share: Educate yourself about marine life and share what you learn with friends and family to raise awareness. Join a snorkeling tour or become a citizen scientist.

Now you understand what all the comm-ocean is about, you can help keep our oceans healthy!

What is World Ocean Day?

World Ocean Day is celebrated on 8 June every year and brings together more than 2,000 organisations from over 150 countries every year to work together on conservation efforts. It's a day to unite, celebrate, and advocate for our oceans and a healthy climate.

Want to learn more about the unique marine life in South Australia’s waters? Take a look at seven of the most popular marine creatures that live in SA’s waters.

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